John Gurda's Picks for Doors Open Milwaukee 2015
If you work or spend any time downtown, you know that much of the business district can be a little slower on weekends than during the work week. But this weekend, some buildings downtown and in many other parts of the Milwaukee area will be bustling with activity.
Close to 200 buildings will open their doors to visitors for a fifth consecutive year. Doors Open Milwaukee offers a rare glimpse at some buildings and facilities that most people only generally see from the outside. Many of them are buildings that historian John Gurda knows well. In addition to giving talks at three sites this weekend, he’s also author of numerous books on Milwaukee history.
"This is more than 175 buildings in one weekend, so it's almost overwhelming in the variety, but it's all there," says Gurda.
With plenty of sites to see, John Gurda shares a few of his favorite site suggestions:
1. Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear - "It's just a really nice kind of a jewel, a micro look inside of Milwaukee's history."
2. Downtown street sections around Michigan, Water and Wisconsin Avenues - "You've got that block from Michigan to Wisconsin that is largely intact. If our ancestors could come back from 1890 and walk up and down that street, they would recognize it."
3. Houses of Worship:
- Immanuel Presbyterian (oldest congregation in Milwaukee) - "A wonderful example of the high Victorian Protestant establishment."
- Basilica of St. Josaphat - "Among my favorite buildings in the world...It was built as a monument to the faith of the Polish immigrants who actually pooled their pennies to build what is the largest church in Milwaukee."
- St. Joseph's Convent Chapel - "Inch for inch, that may be the most painstakingly crafted worship space in the entire Milwaukee area."
4. The Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant - "It has been a surprisingly popular choice. It kind of gives people a chance to see what happens when they run the sink or flush, and they walk off with a small bag of Milorganite as well."
5. Grohmann Museum - "Among the most unusual museums in Milwaukee...it is filled with the art of work. Unusual - not just in Milwaukee, but nationally and internationally."
The fifth annual Doors Open Milwaukee is organized by Historic Milwaukee and it runs this Saturday and Sunday.